Offense falls flat as Reds take loss
Bats shut down by Astros in spring clash of NL Central rivals
ASTROS 4, REDS 2
at Kissimmee, Fla.
Friday, March 21
Reds at the plate: Laynce Nix logged two of the Reds' hits, singling in the fourth and again in the seventh. Wilkin Castillo doubled in the eighth, and Darnell McDonald doubled to lead off the ninth, when Jonny Gomes drove in two with a double off Bud Norris.
Astros at the plate: Humberto Quintero drove in the first run with a two-out base hit in the second, driving in Geoff Blum. Russ Ortiz followed with an RBI single, scoring Reggie Abercrombie. Darin Erstad led off the sixth with a double and scored on Lance Berkman's first homer this spring.
Reds on the mound: Johnny Cueto allowed two runs on six hits over five innings. Nick Masset threw three innings, allowing two runs on three hits with three walks and one strikeout.
Astros on the mound: Ortiz, the leading candidate to win one of the final spots in the rotation, turned in his strongest outing of the spring, allowing one hit over six innings with two strikeouts. Chris Sampson followed with two scoreless innings.
Grapefruit League records: Astros 2-16-3; Reds 9-12
Up next: Fifth-starter contender Homer Bailey will get another chance to continue his strong spring when he starts for the Reds as they host the Pirates on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. ET in Sarasota, Fla. Paul Maholm will be pitching for Pittsburgh and will likely face many of the Reds regulars that did not travel on Friday, including Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Alex Gonzalez.